Please note, When I put this on my review schedule I did not mean for it to be so poignant a time.
There are good films, there are great films, And there are Those films, that change things. Gojira took its inspiration from King Kong and the likes of other giant atomic monsters of the age like the Beast from 20000 Fathoms. The film took the idea and didn’t treat it like just a monster attack, they treated it as a disaster, a disaster that destroyed lives which they had experience of by being the only country to be bombed by a nuclear weapon.
This in tone makes Godzilla a completely different beast than the atomic monsters of American B movies.
The film starts on a boat, we see a few men interacting before there is a white flash and the boat catches fire ( yeah there is A LOT of nuke imagery in this film), while there is a desperate search for survivors more boats are destroyed even a fishing vessel that had picked up survivors, all the while their widows demand to know what happened. This quickly shows Godzilla for something other films often forgot, it showed the damage of what this was doing to people, at no point is the everyman just thoughtlessly crossed out going oh they’re dead but they didn’t matter, it shows all the deaths as a horrible thing.
We come to Oda Island, where fishing is low and an old man speaks of Gojira/Godzilla a legendary beast that they would often have to send a young girl out on a raft to appease, we also see on a raft another survivor who spoke of a beast that destroyed his ship. Later during a storm, the island is attacked, and people look up in horror as an unseen but colossal being destroys the home of the survivor. This can be seen as a metaphor for though one had survived the explosion, the radiation coming to kill him later.
As a scientific team investigates the island they find radiation and then a bell chimes what we are waiting for, the most iconic roar in film history, one that nothing would come close to till Jurassic Park, Godzilla/Gojira. We then move on as people debate the creature, at no point do people belive it’s a hoax, no long drawn out point of people not believing them instead they discuss the ramifications of such a being, and the notion it was unleashed by nuclear weapons, we also hear about.
I will not spoil the rest of the film as it is one you MUST see ( no really it’s a must see, either Japanese original or American dubbed version). At no point does the film take a notion of forgetting the tragedy or treating it like a cheesy monster, when you see Tokyo in flames and a mother holding her children telling them they will be with their father soon, This is a disaster, lives are destroyed be the people dead or not. There comes a poignant moment after the destruction as it goes over the bodies of the dead, collected as if a natural desaster had happened followed by a choir of children singing in remorse.
The music though you may have heard from later Godzilla films is present here but used at the right times, it brings about the chilling unstoppable terror of the beast, for while in American films the fear was more the enemy having the bomb, with Godzilla it WAS the bomb, remorseless merciless and uncaring leaving nothing but destruction and death in its wake. This is not symbolism of having the nuke protects us, THIS IS THE NUKE and it’s not caring about that it barely even notices us like an elder god out of Lovecraft, a being so far beyond us we are not worth noticing.
The ending which I will not spoil is poignant and memorable, there is a reason that in the decades to come as other giant monsters tried to live up to this, and the franchise was rebooted more than once, they always kept this film as canon. This as said is on my must see list.
Rating: yes I know that goes above what it should be but this movie is just that good.
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